Picture of Derrick Dunn

Derrick Dunn

Outlaw Johnny Black delivers the laughs

Underrated action hero Michael Jai White kicks his way into the comedy genre for his third directorial effort in Outlaw Johnny Black from Samuel Goldwyn Films. White reunites with his Black Dynamite co-star and co-writer Byron Minns to pen the screenplay.

Cowboy Johnny Black (White) vows to gun down Brett Clayton (Chris Browning), the man responsible for the death of his father (Glynn Turman). Building a reputation for himself through the Wild West, Johnny is hunted by the determined Bill Basset (Randy Couture). Johnny crosses paths with Reverend Percy (Byron Minns) on his quest for revenge.

A calamity of errors leads to Johnny becoming a wanted outlaw and taking refuge in a small mining town that’s been taken over by a notorious land baron Tom Sheally (Barry Bostwick). Further complicating matters, Johnny has to fight off the affections of the Lee sisters, Jessie (Anika Noni Rose) and Bessie (Erica Ash).

One of the standout aspects of Black Dynamite was its faithful recreation and parody of blaxploitation films. The movie perfectly captures the visual style, over-the-top action sequences, and exaggerated characters of the genre. From the grainy cinematography to the funky soundtrack, the film successfully transported viewers back to the 1970s.

That said, if you’re going into Outlaw Johnny Black expecting the same, you may slightly be in for an upset as this is a different kind of film. Outlaw Johny Black carries a PG-13 rating, whereas Black Dynamite was rated R. Additionally, Outlaw Johnny Black runs a surprising two-plus hours, so the comedic moments don’t arrive rapidly. Granted, when the laughs do happen, they are laugh-out-loud moments.

I thoroughly enjoyed a particular scene featuring Erica Ash in this movie. The humor displayed throughout the film ranges from subtle references to common themes in Western cinema to more exaggerated jokes and visual gags. It was a well-crafted tribute to the Western genre and a playful mockery of its tropes. This makes it an entertaining watch for both seasoned Western fans and newcomers to the genre alike.
While this film isn’t as funny as Black Dynamite, one of its strengths is its approach. White has crafted a film full of melanin talent and an engaging storyline. Honestly, I would have preferred that White and Minns took the direction of a full-on action-packed Western instead of the comedy route. Barry Bostwick makes for a decent secondary villain without hamming it up, while our lead antagonist shows up for the final showdown at the right moment.

While Outlaw Johnny Black never reaches the comedic heights of Black Dynamite, the film is worth checking out. With its spot-on parody, strong performances, and funny moments, it captures the Western genre’s spirit while adding its unique flair.

Final Grade: B

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Outlaw Johnny Black delivers the laughs